This is my first blog since leaving the BBSRC (although my old blogs are archived there), but I cannot let the New Year pass without recording the exceptional (New Year's) Honour accorded me in the form of a CBE. Notwithstanding the slight anachronism of the name (and a Select Committee suggested changing 'Empire' to' Excellence'), the recognition of one's contribution to society is something of note. A particular pleasure (beyond the award) is the very kind correspondence one receives from friends and colleagues. The actual collection of the award will occur some time in the spring.
Looking back (and my final BBSRC blog did that for my BBSRC activities), I am pleased that (with one day per week formally employed at Manchester) I did manage to keep my research going, as judged by publication output and citations. Probably this shows the comparatively lugubrious dynamics of even cutting edge research, in that today's grant funded proposal will mostly not be published for 2-4 years. So, having used part of my 'research' time to ensure that I kept up with the literature, I am optimistic that it will not take long for me to move things back up a gear.
Some of the areas where I intend to focus (if that is the right word) are quite fashionable, and include the use of synthetic biology and e-science (for me especially cheminformatics) for making novel products. Others are ones where I was active before and throughout my secondment, such as metabolic network biology, pharmaceutical drug transporters and iron metabolism, while areas where I will expect increases in activity include minimally invasive bioimaging and diagnostics. On the (not in fact) 'softer' side, I anticipate developing work in Data visualisation (to complement our interests in scientific visualisation), 'Science as narrative', and digital knowledge management. I am also keen to make progress in disseminating the answers to why so many countries are ostensibly in debt, to whom (ostensibly) and what can be done about it in a relatively painless way. The clear evidence of failure of economic thought (or its inability to influence policy) means that amateur economists have a perfect right to point up where the truth must reside. Thus, an interesting case (some online) is made by Gaffney and Harrison, focusing on the thinking of Henry George.
All current grant proposals are written and submitted, and the first paper of 2014 is out, with several more in press and submitted.
And finally… I shall when I blog seek to maintain a sense of humour – so here is a link to a nice site reflecting aspects of academic humour.
Dikicioglu D, Oc S, Rash B, Dunn WB, Pir P, Kell DB, Kirdar B, Oliver SG (2014) Yeast cells with impaired drug resistance accumulate glycerol and glucose. Mol Biosyst 10: 93-102
Gaffney M, Harrison F (1994) The corruption of economics, London: Shepheard-Walwyn.